Gov’t MRT3 stake sale to take time

February 5, 2018 - 1:59 PM
BFP personnel use ladder to rescue passengers during an MRT incident on Jan. 20, 2018. Photographed by BOY SANTOS / Philstar

MANILA – The government will wait until the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3 is rehabilitated before it unloads shares held by the two largest state-run banks, the Finance chief said.

“We… are working with the DoTr (Department of Transportation) to finally resolve all the issues with the MRT 3. And that will include what to do with the interest of LBP and DBP in the MRT,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters late last week, referring to the stakes of the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines. “It’s a rather complicated deal because it involves selling the shares.”

“First of all it involves getting a new maintenance contractor… Then we will determine exactly how we will treat the interest of DBP and LBP,” he added.

“Because the real issue now is the riding public — my gosh people are still lining up for a long time to get in the train — that’s the first priority: to get it working right.”

The banks own a combined stake of about 80% in MRT-3.

Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC) — a consortium of Metro Pacific Investment Corp.’s Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp., AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., and Macquarie Holdings (Philippines) Ltd. Pte. — submitted an unsolicited proposal to the government in September to take over the MRT-3, including rehabilitation, operation and maintenance. The MPIC in September estimated investment needed to rehabilitate the system at P20 billion, from P12.5 billion initially.

LRMC bagged original proponent status in September last year and now awaits approval by the National Economic and Development Authority Board, headed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, for the conduct of a Swiss challenge.

MPIC is one of three key Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.